Clive Stockil, born-and-bred Zimbabwean, grew up in and around Gonarezhou National Park. His youth was spent camping in the park with his friends from the local community, learning both local languages – Shangaan and Ndebele – which were to become invaluable later on in his life.
Clive Stockil is the founding father of Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge. Born and bred in the area and qualified as a Zimbabwean Professional Guide in 1973, Clive’s passion for the African bush began in childhood, when he often sought out adventures in the wilderness with his Shangaan friends. He is universally renowned as an authority on the lowveld communities and their wildlife, and continues to build on his vast knowledge.
Clive believes community led conservation is vital for the survival of African wildlife and has been at the forefront of this movement for four decades. He is a board member of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority as well as the recipient of numerous national and international awards including The Order of Merit for Conservation by the French Government in 2011 and the inaugural Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa in 2013.
In the early 1980s, he was called upon by the government of newly independent Zimbabwe to be a mediator between the communities and the authorities. He was also made an honorary officer of the park.
During the bush wars of the late 1970s, the Gonarezhou National Park became a base for army troops; communities who lived in the park where forced out and poaching became rife. After the war ended, the communities wanted to move back; however, the government chose to prevent this and to try and save the park. They needed the help of someone who could communicate between all parties concerned.
It was then, under the shade of a tree in Mahenye Village, that Project CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources) was born. Clive used his unique understanding of the area and its people to initiate change. He spent many years working with the local communities, fostering a healthy respect for the wildlife that lived on the land they shared.
His Contribution to Conservation
Clive Stockil is renowned for his ground-breaking work as one of Africa’s great conservation pioneers – a man who recognised four decades ago the critical need to engage local communities in conservation and deliver tangible benefits to ordinary people living alongside wildlife. Clive has spent many years working with local communities, fostering a healthy respect for the wildlife on the land they shared, reviving wildlife populations and habitat after years of conflict. In the early 1980s, he was called upon by the government of newly independent Zimbabwe to mediate between the communities and the authorities of Gonarezhou National Park.
Clive used his unique understanding of the area and its people to initiate change and established Project CAMPFIRE (Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources). The success of Project CAMPFIRE means that this model has now become the blueprint across many countries in Africa, leading the way when it comes to the coexistence of rural communities and wildlife – for the benefit of both parties. Gonarezhou is one of Africa’s success stories.
In 1992 Clive also helped create Zimbabwe’s biggest private reserve in the Savé Valley, now home to one of the biggest rhino populations in Africa.
Another successful example of Clive’s work is Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, an example of a partnership between the Mahenye Community and the private sector. Encompassing a school development and maintenance of the local clinic, it employs 34 community members, directly contributing to local cash flow through wages.
His Love for Wildlife Conservancy
The elephants carry the scars of years of wars and poaching, but now – thanks to the work of Clive and his team – they are learning that vehicles are no longer a threat; they really don’t need to charge each time they see one. This is something that some of them are still coming to terms with, but that is a story for another day.
The 30 odd years of trials, failures and triumphs of Project CAMPFIRE are etched on Clive’s face, with each line a different story to tell. Yet this gentle man remains humble and quiet about the monumental role he has played in the success story that is Gonarezhou National Park. He is more excited to tell that he saw a palm nut vulture one morning than to tell about his knighthood from the French Government or the lifetime achievement award that he received from Prince William and the Tusk Trust.
- Winner of the Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa 2013
- The Order of Merit for Conservation by the French Government in 2011